Discovery Buys Majority Stake in OWN From Oprah Winfrey

Discovery Communications is paying $70 million to take a majority interest in OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.

Until now, OWN had been a 50-50 joint venture between the television star and the cable programming giant. The deal, announced Monday, increases Discovery’s ownership stake in the basic cable channel by an additional 24.5% to nearly 75%.

The transaction marks the first time that Winfrey has taken money out of the venture. The channel launched in 2011.

Winfrey, however, will continue to serve as chief executive of the network. As part of the deal, she will work exclusively for OWN in the basic cable space through 2025.

Winfrey, who built her company Harpo Inc. into a juggernaut through her syndicated daytime talk show that ran more than two decades until May 2011, now appears as a special correspondent on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

“Creating OWN and seeing it flourish, supported by Discovery and a rapidly growing group of the finest storytellers in film and television, is one of my proudest achievements,” Winfrey said in a statement. “I’m thrilled with the network’s success and excited about this next chapter in our partnership.”

Despite early ratings struggles and staff turnover, OWN has become the top-rated network for African American women with such popular series as “Queen Sugar” and “Greenleaf.” The network has benefited from its relationship with prolific producer Tyler Perry as well as producer-director Ava DuVernay.

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SOURCE: LA Times, Meg James

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